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Investor interest in JNPT SEZ slowly picks up.

Date: 07-10-2017
Subject: Investor interest in JNPT SEZ slowly picks up
The Indian conglomerate JSW Group is exploring participation in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s (JNPT) long-planned special economic zone.

An industry source told JOC.com on condition of anonymity that JSW officials are in touch with port and other government authorities to explore the feasibility of setting up an electric passenger vehicle manufacturing unit at the site. "If adequate land is available, the company may go ahead with the proposal."

The move comes after JSW reportedly distanced itself from rumors it was interested in acquiring the APM Terminals facility in JNPT and as the government has set a 2030 deadline, by which all automakers must switch to production of electric engine cars.

The automobile plant, if it materializes, will be a major boon for the port as it has been struggling to woo private participation in the SEZ despite vigorous investor outreach efforts through trade bodies and diplomatic channels.

Efforts to reach JNPT and JSW for comment were unsuccessful.

Some 685 acres have been set aside for the SEZ, with 494 acres meant for processing activities and 190 acres for non-processing segments. The port estimates that the project would require investments worth more than Rs. 5,000 crore (about $770 million), mostly from port-based industries, to realize its full potential.

Authorities have already obtained all mandatory government approvals for the project and also secured Rs. 468-crore in state aid toward basic infrastructure development at the site.

The project was rolled out during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to JNPT in August 2014, and a global tender seeking private participation there was issued in November of last year. The first phase, involving an investment of Rs. 3,500 crore, originally had a three-year completion period, but it is already running behind schedule owing to delays associated with public funding approvals and a lack of investor interest.  

A delegation from the US Consulate in Mumbai and the American Chamber of Commerce in India earlier this year held talks with JNPT officials to evaluate investment opportunities in the SEZ, the outcome of which is yet to be known. To speed up plans, the government is considering hiring a coordinator to deal with the specific requirements of prospective investors.

The SEZ project, part of New Delhi’s mammoth Sagar Mala port-development program, is critical to generating additional captive cargo for JNPT, particularly as a 2.4 million-TEU fourth mega-terminal is scheduled to open at the end of the year. Ensuring volume will become more difficult given the ever-growing competition from nearby private rival Mundra.

JSW Group is a steel, energy, cement, maritime infrastructure, and construction behemoth with more than $11 billion annual revenues and 40,000 employees worldwide. The group’s port interests include a minor multi-purpose facility at Jaigarh, near Raigad in Maharashtra State, and two terminal concessions at the state-owned port of Paradip that primarily handle coal and iron ore shipments.

JSW last year also clinched a deal with the port of Fujairah for the operation and management of mechanized bulk cargo-handling terminals at the Persian Gulf gateway.

Source: joc.com

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